San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival | 2012 Mayor Honoree
The largest and most comprehensive event of its kind in North America, the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival annually presents the diverse ethnic dance companies and cultural traditions of the Bay Area. During its rich, 34 year history, the Festival has celebrated and fostered appreciation for the distinct communities in the Bay Area and Northern California, through its performance season of dance styles that have included traditional classical dance, sacred dance genres, vernacular dance forms, social dance and folk dance presentations. Since its inception, the Festival has presented over 600 dance companies from over 100 difference genres and has reached hundreds of thousands of audience members, providing outstanding opportunities to artists who seek to present the dance expressions of their cultural and ethnic heritages.
The Festival has presented over 14,000 dancers, that range from community groups performing alongside internationally recognized professionals, students beside masters, and cultural groups as different as Senegalese dancers from the Kaolak region and Mexican folkorico dancers from the Tobasco region all performing on the same stage. Each program features 7-11 companies. The Festival performers are selected from an annual audition, where each company has ten minutes to present its work, while soloists have five minutes. Participants in the field come from varied socioeconomic backgrounds and represent a broad range of occupations and lifestyles. Many are second and third generation dancers and musicians, and after so many years, the children of Festival pioneers are now recreating, preserving, and innovating important work as their contribution to contemporary culture.
Originally founded and produced by Grants for the Arts of the San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, the 1978 Festival was the first multicultural, city-sponsored ethnic dance festival in the United States.
The Festival is Co-Directed by Artistic Directors CK Ladzekpo and Carlos Carvajal, as well as Julie Mushet, executive director of World Arts West.
Photo of San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival by RJ Muna.